Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The hidden mother

Source: The Retronaut

In the 1800s, when cameras where still a new invention, taking a photograph wasn't a quick affair. Each photograph required a long exposure which meant the subject had to stand perfectly still for that time. If they moved, the photo would be blurred.

When it came to taking photographs of small children a cunning, but slightly creepy, method of keeping the child in place was adopted. It was the 'hidden mother', although in the photo above she's not so much hidden as covered up with an old curtain. A blind man on a galloping horse can see that there is a woman sitting on a chair holding a baby. Except the woman is covered, hidden, in order to focus the image on the baby.

It seems completely and utterly bizarre to our modern eyes. And yet, many of us do something just as crazy. You see, there is a modern phenomena called the absent mother.

Have a think about it.

How many photos did you take of your children last year? Dozens? Hundreds? Can't even count them?

And of those photos, how many of them do you appear in? One? A few?  All of them? (If it's the last one: Are you crazy, woman?)

Last year I read an article that resonated with me - it was written by a woman, a mother, who typically always found reasons not to be in photos taken with her children. Too fat, not dressed right, bad hair day, etc.

And don't we all do it? Well maybe not all of us, but I certainly do.  I always think I'll ruin any photo with my two beautiful, photogenic daughters so I prefer to stay behind the camera, but it means we have a distorted photo history of our family.

When my own lovely mum passed away, I realised far too late that I had just one photo of the two of us together. One. Single. Photo.

It's now framed and on my bedside cabinet, but one photo from a lifetime with her? That's not right is it?  And considering she was the most influential person in my life it hardly reflects the importance she played.

So I need to make sure my girls don't have the same problem. 'Scuse me while I go and do some photobombing.